SR-22 insurance is commonly known as DUI insurance, and it’s true that getting charged with a DUI will likely mean that you’ll have to have SR-22 insurance for the next several years.
But did you know that there are other reasons you may need SR-22 insurance? They have nothing to do with drunk driving, and some reasons have nothing to do with driving at all.
What is SR-22 Insurance?
An SR-22, known as an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility, is a document that you and your car insurance company file with your state DMV to prove that you have the state-required minimum car insurance coverage. A car insurance policy that includes an SR-22 certificate is commonly known as SR-22 insurance.
Most people don’t need SR-22 insurance. If you do, you’ll receive a letter from your state DMV explaining why, as well as how long you need to file your SR-22. It’s usually three years, but always contact your state DMV to know exactly when your SR-22 expires.
The most common reason for filing an SR-22 is a DUI conviction. That’s not the only thing that DMVs consider. In fact, you can be required to get SR-22 insurance for reasons that have nothing to do with driving.
Here are five reasons you may need SR-22 insurance besides getting charged with a DUI.
1. If You’re Caught Driving Without Insurance, You May Need an SR-22
Almost every state requires some form of minimum auto liability insurance, but keeping track of every registered vehicle is unrealistic for state DMVs. This was one of the big drivers behind the start of SR-22 insurance.
So, while you may need to show proof of insurance to renew your vehicle, there’s no way to tell who’s keeping enough insurance and who’s driving uninsured — that is, until you get pulled over.
Getting caught driving without insurance won’t just mean a ticket and fines. In many states, you’ll also be required to carry SR-22 insurance for the next few years. Keep in mind that SR-22 insurance coverage is the same as the usual state-required minimum, it just costs a lot more. The difference is that filing an SR-22 is a way for your state DMV to keep close track of those drivers who’ve shown that they’re not following the system of carrying liability insurance.
2. Too Many Traffic Tickets May Result in the Need for an SR-22
Almost everyone has gotten pulled over for one thing or another — perhaps you were in hurry and weren’t paying attention to your speed, or you tried to make that illegal U-turn when you thought no one was looking.
But did you know that all these little violations add up on your driving record? Most state DMVs use a point system to track driver behavior, and too many moving violations can actually cost you your license and require you to get SR-22 insurance.
Examples of common moving violations include:
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Making an illegal turn
- Following too closely (tailgating)
- Improper passing
- Driving away from the scene of an accident (hit-and-run)
When you get ticketed for a moving violation, most state DMVs will record the violation and assign points to your driving record. Minor violations like speeding will earn you fewer points than major violations like causing a hit-and-run accident.
If you accumulate a certain number of points within a designated time period, then the DMV will automatically suspend your license. In order to get your license back, you may need to file an SR-22, as well as pay any outstanding fines and administrative fees related to your license suspension.
It might seem harsh to suspend a license for minor violations like speeding, but it’s an effective way to help people be safer drivers once their SR-22 is removed.
3. Too Many At-Fault Accidents Can Mean You Need to File an SR-22
Just like with moving violations, causing accidents can get you points on your license even if you’re sober. While fender-benders and minor accidents earn fewer points, a major accident can earn you a lot more, especially if someone dies or is seriously injured.
Keep in mind that an at-fault accident can lead to multiple tickets — and multiple points — on your driving record. For example, if you caused a minor accident on the highway because you were tailgating and weaving between lanes, then in addition to getting points for causing an accident, you’ll likely get points for speeding, reckless driving, and following too closely. In other words, a single accident can lead to a domino effect of negative consequences.
If you really want to avoid needing SR-22 insurance, then drive safely and follow all traffic laws.
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4. If You Owe Court-Ordered Child Support, You May Have to File SR-22 Insurance
Cases involving child custody and child support are stressful enough on their own, but there’s a way that not paying child support can make your life even more difficult. If a court orders you to pay child support and you refuse, then your license can be suspended. To get it back, you’ll need to get SR-22 insurance and pay what you owe in child support.
What’s worse is that some states won’t grant you a hardship license if the reason behind your license suspension is failing to pay child support. This can easily cause a “vicious cycle” in which you can’t drive to work to make money, and you don’t have the money to pay child support.
Don’t wait for a judge to take away your license. Be proactive about paying child support or work with an attorney who can help you reach an agreement with the other party.
5. An SR-22 is a Possibility if You Owe Money to Your State
Drivers are often surprised to learn that simply owing taxes to their state can lead to an SR-22 requirement. It turns out the DMV and the state department of taxation (the exact names of these institutions can vary from state to state) work closely with each other and share data about who owes taxes.
You can even be required to get SR-22 insurance if you don’t own a car. Here’s how it usually works: when you file your state tax return, you’ll know whether you owe money. Most taxpayers send a check with their return, but technically, you don’t have to pay what you owe until the state tax filing deadline (usually mid-April, the same day as the federal tax filing deadline).
The first action taken by the state’s taxation department is to send you a bill for the amount owed plus interest and late fees. If you still haven’t paid anything after a certain amount of time, then the tax department can contact the DMV and ask them to suspend your license as well as your vehicle registration. At that point, all a police officer needs to do is look at your license plate to know that you’re driving without a valid license and car registration.
Before you can get your license back, you’ll need to settle your bill with the tax department and take out an SR-22 insurance policy. Even if you pay off your bill in full, you still won’t be able to remove your SR-22 until the required filing period is over.
If you have a state tax bill that you can’t pay off, don’t ignore it. Most states are willing to negotiate payment plans before they resort to suspending your license. If your case is complicated, then consider hiring a debt attorney who’s experienced in working with your state’s tax department.
Affordable SR-22 Insurance is a Click Away
There are plenty of reasons why you may need SR-22 insurance, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be expensive. At SR-22 Adviser, we help drivers all over the country find the insurance they need at an affordable price. All it takes is a few minutes for an online quote for affordable SR-22 insurance from our partner.